We Came, We Evented, We Lived

We're badass and we know it. 

Well folks, Dino and I survived our very first horse trial!

We completed all 3 phases, and while we didn't take home a ribbon, it was an awesome experience and I can't wait to do it again!

I've been converted. Officially. What a great sport.

I had a whole posse with me this time, even my parents and Aunt Shelly came! They literally have not been to a horse show in years, and have never seen me show Dino, so it was pretty cool to have them there. Dino also loved the extra attention. Michael and Rachel were along for the ride, and I was grateful to have them, as always!

I also can't say enough about the quality of the competition. The courses were thoughtful and inviting for those just starting out in eventing, the dressage judging was fair, everything was impeccably organized, and the whole day went very smoothly. I also did not see one horse there that was in poor condition. At the local hunter/jumper schooling shows in my area, there is always a handful of scraggly, poorly-groomed, underweight horses with overgrown feet that someone has decided need to be in a show ring for some strange reason. At the horse trial this weekend, every single horse was in good weight, fit enough to do their job, and groomed to the nines. I don't know if it's because the event was sponsored by a local Pony Club and thus drew a more educated crowd, or if it was a reflection of eventing as a sport, but it was great to see regardless.

Dino always knows when it's a horse show morning. He's got an extra little spark in his eye and seems to ask, "Where are we going today?!" as I'm getting ready to load him up. On Sunday morning he all but charged onto the trailer all by himself!

We got to the horse park about 2 hours before my dressage test; more than enough time to walk both of my courses and get ready to compete. After walking both stadium and cross country, I was actually feeling pretty confident. The stadium course was very well thought out, cross country was very straightforward without any complex questions, and I could hop over most of the jumps on foot.

In stark contrast to our last show, I gave myself about 20 minutes to warm up for dressage. I let Dino have his stretchy time, working for most of a time on a loose rein so he could get all the kinks out and start working over his back, only really asking him to go on the bit for the last minute or so. It ended up being the PERFECT warm up - my pony was relaxed, forward, loose, and listening without having been over-schooled. I was really pleased with how he felt. I topped it off with a little bit of haunches-in at the trot while waiting for the previous rider to do her test, and BAM, there he was, on my aids. Awesome.


Love those listening ears!

Down centerline! Love that feeling. 
I was REALLY pleased with our dressage test. Overall he was a little tense, but I think I've attained my optimal level of stress when it comes to showing on the flat. In dressage or hunter flat classes, the added pressure to perform allows me to "bring it" instead of making me nervous and shutting down my decision-making abilities. Our trot work was great, the free walk was fantastic, as usual, and we had a phenomenal right lead trot-to-canter transition. All movements were accurate and on-the-letter, and we got mostly 7's for a 36.8%. Not too shabby! The judge addressed the moments of tension in her comments, one sort of huge canter circle, and my occasionally busy hands. I thought her comments were spot-on and that her scoring was very fair. I was all smiles after that test!

We took a short break to catch our breaths and change our wardrobe for SJ and XC.

Stadium warm up was also just right. I just got Dino moving and grooving a little at the trot and canter, and then Rachel schooled us over a handful of jumps. He was jumping AWESOME - Dino felt great in his body and so, so confident. We ended by jumping a 2'6" oxer a few times, totally killed it, and then headed over to the stadium ring.

Rocking it. 

Dino LAUNCHED into the arena like a beast, ready to rock and roll! If you've seen us at shows, you know that getting my pony in the in-gate can sometimes be an exercise in patience. "Yes, Dino, you have to go in. I'm not kidding. Seriously. Go. Now we pick up the canter. Canter. Canter now. Please. You're giving me an ulcer, just GO!" Not this time. EuroPony trotted in boldly all on his own, and picked up an energetic canter at just a swing of my seat. I was grinning. Dino was ready. The course was pretty good, but I let my nerves get the best of me at times and pulled to a chip instead of adding leg. The one funny turn on course was interesting... Dino was pretty sure we were going straight, and made a beeline for the rail while I emphatically impressed upon him that we were TURNING. NOW. DEAR SWEET LORD PLEASE JUMP THIS OXER. Rockstar that he is, he popped over it after only having about 2 strides to look at it, and finished the rest of the course in style.

And here you see the awkwardness that was fence 3... 

Turn 'n burn, baby

Almost done!


Another water break, then on to cross country!

Dino was still fresh as a daisy after the first two phases, and gleefully galloped around the XC schooling area and launched himself over a crossrail. Clearly, he didn't really need any tuning up for the next phase.

The first three fences were awesome! I was holding it together, Dino was really focused, and we were having fun galloping around jumping tiny logs. Then we approached fence 4, and the change of terrain where we had to canter over a stone dust road really threw him off. I felt his hesitation, and instead of encouraging him and adding leg, I shut down and stopped riding, so my pony stopped at the jump. I regrouped, circled around, came at it again, and jumped it just fine. The next few fences were great, too, even if Dino did start to get a bit strong galloping down the wide open field. He was really enjoying himself. I trotted fence 8, a weird little split-rail fence thing, and made a sharp turn to the log at fence 9. We jumped that great, and then headed towards fence 10, which was a big slanty thing and the largest jump on course, and on a slight downhill. I freaked. Dino freaked. I pulled and pulled and pulled to find a distance and abandoned ship at the last second and turned my pony away from the jump. I came at it again... same thing. Our lack of confidence was showing big time! On the third approach we got over it, then trotted down a big hill to the last fence, a small coop going uphill. Dino jumped it from a nice little trot, and we cantered through the flags. WE DID IT! And my pony was hardly even breathing hard. Dude is amazing.

Fence 4, Do-Over!

I had so much fun during our first eventing experience, and I think we've found where we belong. I'm determined to build more experience and confidence cross country so that we won't feel quite so overwhelmed the next time. The terrain changes affected Dino much more than I thought they would, as well as my own lack of focus. I think having to do 11 XC fences in a row without being able to stop and re-group was also kind of a shock to both of us! The hunter derby next weekend will be great practice for eventing.

So, there you have it. We've officially crossed over to the dark side, and I kind of love it. Huge thanks to everyone who encouraged us along the way!

The End.


  1. Congrats! What a great feeling. :)

    1. Thanks! It did feel great to accomplish something new!

  2. That's great that you had such an awesome first experience! You guys look super and like you were both really enjoying yourselves.

    1. Thank you! Dino really seems to love this whole eventing thing... between not having to stand around and wait to being able to blast around over fences and XC, he really enjoys it!

  3. Love it! We'll have to get Robert and Dino together at event!

    1. YES! That would be so fun! You'll have to let me know what your fall schedule looks like and maybe we can do an event together!

  4. That looks like so much fun! What a good horse! And your photog is awesome - the shot of you trotting into the dressage ring is beautiful!

    1. We had a blast - Dino is totally game for anything, anytime, but he really loved this eventing thing. My photographer is my husband!! Stitzpics.com if you want to check out some of his non-horsey stuff... We're in Eastern PA if you ever need a photographer!

  5. Okay, I'm a total wimp, but this looks like too much fun! And what an awesome first picture - that's worth framing!

  6. Congratulations! I am so happy for you (especially that you were all smiles about the whole thing!) Looks like you did great! What an amazing experience - gosh, you've got me itchin' to get my game on!

  7. I just found your blog and I love it!

    1. Welcome to PONY'TUDE! I'm happy you found us! :)


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